Thursday 18 December 2014

Scandal-hit meat plant in radical overhaul

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

Published 28/01/2013 | 05:00

A RADICAL overhaul of the plant at the centre of the horse-meat scandal may win it a reprieve from lucrative customers.

Fast-food giant Burger King said it would consider shortly whether to resume sourcing its burgers from ABP's Silvercrest plant in Co Monaghan.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the results of an investigation vindicated the Irish food industry as it pinpointed Polish ingredients as the source of horse DNA.

An official investigation is now being launched by the Polish authorities.

Mr Coveney outlined a series of stringent measures to prevent a recurrence of the horse-meat crisis at the Larry Goodman-owned Silvercrest plant, which had threatened to damage Ireland's €2bn beef industry. This included a new management team and ongoing departmental monitoring at Silvercrest with DNA testing.

The company said its chilled beef division, ABP Ireland, had taken direct control of Silvercrest, while its sister business, in the UK, Dalepak, was being put under control of ABP UK.

UK supermarket chain Waitrose, meanwhile, confirmed it would restock its shelves with burgers produced by ABP Dalepak in Yorkshire after tests confirmed no ongoing horse DNA contamination.

Contaminated

Mr Coveney had lengthy discussions with officials from Burger King and Tesco over the weekend to outline the results of the probe into how supermarket burgers produced at Silvercrest were contaminated with up to 29pc horse meat.

Although Burger King products were not contaminated at any time, the fast-food chain had switched to alternative European suppliers for its Irish, British and Danish restaurants.

But Mr Coveney said test results had confirmed meat trimmings from Poland contained up to 20pc horse meat whereas no Irish ingredients contained any horse DNA.

"The fact that this problem was effectively imported from another member state – in this case Poland – is in some ways I think a vindication of the Irish food industry," Mr Coveney said.

ABP said no decision had been taken yet about when Silvercrest would reopen and it would not comment on whether legal action was being taken.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association said serious questions remained about "why Polish ingredients were going into Irish beef burgers".

Irish Independent

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